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Cornell the Armadillo!

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Each year, our zoo is fortunate to have the excellent input of vet training in collaboration with the Cornell College of Vet. Medicine from New York.  Thorough medical checks are given to many of the animals who call The Belize Zoo their home.   Valuable staff training occurs.  Sound recommendations to empower animal care techniques , are always an outcome from this positive relationship. The recent Cornell Vet training course took place in the midst of the severe tropical depressions which drenched the zoo daily.  The professors and students took the weather in stride, and with big smiles and newly-purchased rubber boots, they all carried out their important work.

But a surprise was in store for all.  The constant storms caused the near- by Sibun river to rise quickly and with force!   As a result, a baby armadillo was rescued by kind people who saw it struggling in the river’s swift currents.

Dr. George Kolias and his student vet crew quickly provided quality comfort care to the baby.  Then, warm and dry, their further input led to the development of a healthy diet which would see the baby grow and thrive.  Armadillos are related to the anteater, and like their antsbear cousins, they eat massive amounts of ants and termites.    That “meal of choice” is not a practical dining option for a “dilly” in captivity.  However, with input from Cornell vet school and our zoo staff, the baby began receiving a tailor-made diet.  Like it?  The little armadillo seemed to smile while receiving the dinner-made-to-order.

Armadillos are unusual mammals.   They are covered in scales, no fur at all.  They are found in a variety of habitats.  Armadillos have little resistance to cold temperatures.  They enjoy a nice, hot and humid environment.   Armadillos build burrows, usually spending the daytime hours curled up in a ball, enjoying the solitude of their “tunnel  time”.

If an armadillo is scared, it will easily jump three feet straight up in the air!  And no surprises are ever in store for mama armadillo.  After she carries the young in her belly for four months, birth is given to four identical young.   The infant armadillos will stay with mama armadillo for three years before they wander off on their own.

And check out this Interesting armadillo fact.   The armadillo, along with us humans, is the only animal in the world which can contact the dreaded disease, leprosy.   This makes our ant-loving animal incredibly valuable for vital medical research. The armadillo is also an important food item on the menu for our magnificent jaguars in Belize.   Claws up for the Armadillo!

With such an outstanding profile, there was no question at The Best Little Zoo in the World, what to name this sweet rescued baby armadillo…. Welcome to the zoo, baby armadillo, “CORNELL”!   

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